Thursday 13 December 2012

How long does it take for a heretic to get his way?

The courtyard of the Italian Institute with the spires of St Vitus Cathedral up the hill.

I have been staying in Prague for a few days.  It's a little chillier than when I was last here for the Investiture of Cardinal Duka into the Order of St Lazarus in September. I'm staying at the Italian Cultural Institute which is fascinating. Founded in 1573 and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, its purpose, in conjunction with the Italian Embassy, is to promote all things Italian.  

I'm always fascinated by the fact that the most prominent heresy in the Czech lands is that of the Hussites - sometimes called  Kališníci; "Chalice People" as the chalice became their symbol because one of their several outrageous demands of the Church was communion under both kinds. It obviously takes about 600 years for a heretic to have his demands become common practice!!!  Their leader, Jan Hus was executed in 1415 after he refused to recant.  His statue stands in Old Town Square with the splendid Hussite church behind it.c

Jan Huss on a chilly town Square

On the other hand there is St John Nepomuk, whose splendid memorial is in St Vitus Cathedral, and who is commemorated on the Charles Bridge, crossing the Vltava river, from where he was thrown at the orders of the Bohemian Emperor in 1396, partly for siding with his archbishop against the Avignon Papacy, whom the Emperor was supporting (although there is a whole lot more to it than that).  Because of the manner of his death he is a patron of flood victims - for all those who have suffered back in Britain this year.

His silver-plated altar in the cathedral is something to behold!

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